The Longer We Stay, the Deeper They Will Hate Us

by RON JACOBS

Let’s see: the US forces are arresting Iraqi workers who were protesting the treatment of unemployed Iraqi workers by occupation forces and U.S. corporations granted contracts for work in Iraq; the United Nations headquarters in Iraq is bombed because of its complicity in the colonial government that the US is trying to form and its role in the devastating sanctions that cleared the way for the US/UK war on Iraq; the US is getting ready to deport hundreds of men who were picked up in recent roundups of Middle Eastern and other Asians who had problems with their INS status; and, just for good measure, Rumsfeld has given the US the go-ahead to resume flights designed to intercept or shoot down supposed drug flights. Oh yeah, the New York Times and John McCain have asked that more troops be sent to Iraq.

As the son of a veteran and the sibling of another, I am always dumbstruck when I hear old soldiers make these kinds of statements. What, I wonder, is going on in their brain? How can they wish their children and grandchildren to be put in harms way for no discernible reason? Didn’t their combat experience–especially for those who served in Vietnam or Korea–prove to them that wars fought for no reasons other than empire and its accompanying greed are exercises in futility? Don’t they remember the hatred they felt from the locals in the countries they swaggered through or (in McCain’s case) bombed from the sky? Didn’t they recognize that the longer they and their fellow soldiers stayed in country, the deeper that hatred became?

What kind of idiots do they take us for? They lied to get us into their war (and about the consequences) and now they expect us to believe that a few hundred thousand more of our boys and girls in uniform sweating in the desert sun with their fingers on the trigger of their automatic weapons will get the results the Pentagon wants? For those of you who dont know the routine: this is what the Pentagon always says. The war on Vietnam was started with only a few thousand GIs. Then, when the Vietnamese resistance refused to roll over and die–choosing instead to attack US and other foreign troops at will–we were told that more troops were needed to accomplish Washington’s goal. Unless that goal was the slaughter and wounding of millions and the destruction of their country (which it may have been), no stated goal was ever accomplished. The war on Korea was started under similar circumstances. It ended with no borders changing and millions of people dead and wounded. Hell, they didn’t even sign a peace treaty in that one.

What is going on in Iraq is the very quagmire Bush and Blair were warned against. Unless we want it to grow, it is essential that we insist on the combat in Iraq being a major campaign issue. No candidate should get away without stating his/her position clearly and unequivocally. The duty of those forces arrayed against the war before it began need to get back in the streets and make it clear that we will not be fooled. While we regret the lives of those foreign soldiers and civilians who have died in this war as much as we regret the lives of the Iraqis killed and destroyed, we know better than to believe that sending more occupation forces and carpetbaggers to Iraq will justify their deaths. There can be no justification for them. They will only be honored when their brothers and sisters in arms are brought home.

This won’t happen unless we make it happen. Even supposedly antiwar politicians won’t call for this because they fear being labeled unpatriotic. Because they are so close to the seat of power they think they have too much to lose. We have nothing to lose but the lives of our children, siblings, and lovers and, if we wait too long, perhaps what remains of our freedom. Unless the movement against the occupation and for an immediate withdrawal becomes a movement even more popular than the movement against the war, those of us who already are part of it could easily end up isolated and irrelevant or imprisoned.

Why do you think John Ashcroft is on the warpath defending the PATRIOT Acts?

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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